Sports massage is treatment given with the understanding not only of anatomy and physiology but also of the particular demands placed upon the body by the client and their specific sport.
Sports massage is done with the principal mandate of returning you to your desired sports activity with the same or an even better level of function. Sports massages can include more aggressive techniques that approach muscles more deeply.
Sports massage will often utilise a variety of modalities such as remedial massage, trigger point therapy, cross fibre techniques and deep tissue work. Primarily though, the difference lies with function. That is, returning you to your chosen activity in optimal functional.
A pre-event massage is a short, specific treatment given immediately before (30 minutes- 24 hours before) a sports event. The goal of massage is to increase your circulation, flexibility and mental clarity to improve your performance.
A pre-event sports massage does not replace your warm up, but complements it. It is important for your massage therapist to know your sport or activity and what muscles are likely to be used the most. It is also useful to assess your athletic condition and needs well prior to the event. The pre-event massage is not the time and place to be performing deep or remedial treatment.
Factors such as temperature, anxiety, fatigue and hyperactivity are considered before your massage treatment. If you are cold, then more warming things need to be done. If are already warmed up, your therapist will focus on flexibility. If you are nervous some soothing strokes may be called for. As you can see, the pre-event sports massage will vary depending upon you and your chosen sport.
The amount and depth of treatment is the most important key to effective pre-event massage. Deep tissue work is usually contraindicated during a pre-event massage as it may cause too much of an increase in flexibility and it may interfere with your muscle timing and strength.
How does a Sports Massage differ from a regular massage?
Regular massage usually means those treatments offered at beauty spas or relaxation clinics. Both environments offer valid treatment for overworked, stressed muscles. However, sports and remedial massage differs in both its purpose and the techniques used. While nearly all massage therapists can perform regular massage, only those with specific sports massage skills are adequately equipped to perform a sublime sports massage.
Recovery is the primary purpose of post-event sports massage. Athletes push themselves harder during an event than while training. It's your competitive spirit pushing you to the limit. For example, during a marathon most athletes run a greater distance during the event than they've ever run during their training. A massage afterward is vital to assist a hasty pain-free recovery.
Your sports massage therapist will aim to relax your muscle tone, improve your recovery circulation, and restore your flexibility. This allows for a quicker recovery and return to training without the usual stiffness and soreness.
Post-event massage can also be that first assessment for potential injuries, and more serious medical conditions (heat exhaustion or hypothermia), which may be identified early and treated promptly.
The school of thought is out as to when you will achieve the best results in a post-event massage: immediately or the next day.
In an ideal world, such as professional sport, they have light daily or heavier alternate day massages. You be the judge as to what works best for you!